Booksellers helping booksellers

I write as I prepare to return home after an all-day meeting with booksellers from the region, a short but sweet gathering to learn from each other and discuss industry business with staff of the American Booksellers Association.

The news is good. In general, sales are steady or growing for independent bookstores, e-book sales have plateaued, and the genre of books seeing the most explosive growth in sales around the country - juvenile fiction and non-fiction - is an area in which our store's selection is especially strong. (Probably owing to the fact that all the owners and managers have children of that age!)

I was happy for the continued good news from the industry as a whole. It is sometimes hard to feel optimistic after limping through the saddest time of year for us which is always March. (Such a contrast to festive holiday season!) The combination of spring break with tax season has a desperately chilling effect on sales at our store and we are always glad when April arrives! Thanks to all the loyal customers who visit us regularly throughout the year and shop for books for themselves, family members, friends, and colleagues.

One thing I learned today is that on average, people who identify themselves as indie bookstore shoppers buy only 4 out of 10 books at indie bookstores. Some of our customers are above average on this, I know, but I suppose there are others who aren't. While a little disconcerting, this statistic offers us a tangible challenge. Can we help you, our customers, understand how important each of your purchases are to us as an independent store? Can we make your customer experience better, giving you more reasons to be even more loyal? We certainly look forward to trying!

How loyal are you?